In episode four of RuPaul‘s Drag Race Season 6, contestants were asked to look at cropped photos and guess whether they were photos of a “Female or She-male”. Now, after nearly a month of controversy surrounding their use of the word ‘she-male’, the show’s Facebook page has shared that they will be completely removing the longstanding “You’ve got she-mail” portion of the show.
A statement from the RuPaul‘s Drag Race Facebook page reads:
[quote]We wanted to thank the community for sharing their concerns around a recent segment and the use of the term ‘she-mail’ on Drag Race.
Logo has pulled the episode from all of our platforms and that challenge will not appear again.
Furthermore, we are removing the ‘You’ve got she-mail’ intro from new episodes of the series.
We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive. We sincerely apologize.”[/quote]
The controversy has been reported on numerous times since the episode aired, and this statement appears to be Logo’s biggest attempt to reconcile with their transgender audience. We’re proud of them for taking such a huge step to apologize, but we can’t help but ask why this issue took so long to arise… and, if it was such a big dead, why Logo didn’t take action sooner…
The “You’ve got she-mail” video message has been part of every episode since its debut on season 2, so why, after five years and five and a half seasons, is the issue finally being addressed? The word she-male has long been considered a highly offensive word among the transgender community, seeing as it openly mocks their gender identity and places emphasis on their biological sex versus their gender identity.
We really appreciate the steps that Logo has taken to remove the word from future episodes, and we are grateful for their empathy. Every day, the transgender community fights hard for acceptance, and, as one of today’s biggest voices in LGBT pop culture, we expect Logo to act with better judgement in the future.
In contrast, it seems that not all members of the transgender community are content with the decision. Season 2 contestant, Kylie “Sonique” Love, who came out as transgender following her time on the show, shared this image on Instagram with the added message “We’re going to miss you #yougotshemail”:
[quote]RuPaul’s politically correct drag race. The term she-mail never offended me. People w/ a lack of sense of humor do
“I’m not going to have a debate all day with people about the word she-mail. I think its silly they changed it. I WON’T change my opinion.”[/quote]
[quote]i think men who wear huge wigs, exaggerated make up, skimpy outfits, giant lashes, and impossible shoes to impersonate (slander) a woman is a complete misogynist!! they should all be edited out of all and past episodes of Rupaul’s Drag Race..”[/quote]
Phi Phi O’hara’s two cents from Facebook:
[quote]In my opinion this is so ridiculous! What upsets me even more is the fact that some of the contestants that are complaining about it didn’t have a problem being on the show or getting their fame and success knowing this was part of show. Never was this intended to offend anyone or upset anyone. I love the transgender community soooooo much but I have to say “SheMail” had nothing to do with you until some of the transgender community made it about themselves. I understand how as a community some feel this brings the community and the view of gender identity harder to accept but in all reality you are what you answer to. If you feel the word does not represent who you are then it shouldn’t bother you to begin.
“The show has created such a place for the LGBT community in this world. It has made it ok for us to be who we are and has shown the world we are not freaks and we deserve love just like anyone else in this world. The show has not only had transgender guests but many prior contestants that are transgender and have done nothing but given them love, support, respect and catapulted their career plus given them a voice that may otherwise have been silent or not as loud had it not been for a show that gave them support. This subject saddens me because it is our community that has decided this word describes who we are and considers it a negative.
“I support the transgender community and have so many close friends that I love dearly. I want a world that accepts everyone for who they are and who they are meant to be.”[/quote]
Season 1 and Allstars Season 1 contestant, Shannel, got really upset in her Facebook post:
[quote]Dumb dumb and even more fucking dumb!!!! If you were ever offended by the use of ” she mail” on drag race then to be honest you probably shouldn’t have been watching the show in the first place. Fuck stop taking shit so seriously and get over it. Whomever wants to argue the point don’t even bother messaging me because I could care less!!!!”[/quote]
Pandora Boxx has also chimed in on Facebook:
[quote]RuPaul‘s Drag Race is the first EVER show to feature an entire cast of drag queens. It has made us question gender rules dictated to us by our society. To me that is part of what drag is all about, breaking down those gender rules. When transgender contestants have opened up about who they are they were greeted with open arms. Yet, somehow this show is the enemy we should be fighting for to gain equality.
“I do want to say, I love and respect all of my transgender friends and community. I always have and always will.
“I was never offended nor were any of the contestants (who were fighting for screen time to get their face on TV) by the phrase “You’ve Got She-mail.” We all just saw it as a take off of America’s Next Top Model and then we all pretend to be “shes” for a living. This phrase has also been on the show for 5.5 seasons.
“I certainly never want to see someone belittled and legitimately hurt by anything. In my opinion this was not hate speech. To me this just isn’t the battle that needed to be fought. This has the potential to open flood gates we may not want open. Trust me the list of offensive words is growing exponentially. I just don’t see this as a victory for transgender rights. We all already believed you should have them.
“I certainly understand that words can indeed cause pain. I’ve dealt with that all my life. But then I realized that I am giving these words power over me. I refuse to be defined by words and I refuse to let words bring me down.” [/quote]
It seems like its become a debate about the possibility of a slippery slope happening…
Pandora Boxx also tweeted:
[quote]Is there a Women’s Coalition that will get the term “fishy” banned from RPDR now? Yes it means what you think it does.”[/quote]
Manila Luzon joined the slippery slope conversation on Facebook:
[quote]Because I am offended by it, RuPaul’s Drag Race will ALSO edit out the last episode of season 3 where Raja Gemini kicks my ass and wins the crown!
“And because EVERYONE was offended, the entire season of RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race will be edited off the face of the earth.”[/quote]
Season 4 contestant, The Princess, shared this photo on Facebook:
Carmen Carrera also shared her opinion on Facebook:
[quote]So once again people are mad at something that doesn’t concern them. I’m making a post about this to get a couple of things straight. First of all I’m not the one to accept slurs from anyone. I’ve always been that way. In high school I watched gay kids get beat up and bullied and you know what, I remained quiet. Why? Because I was afraid to be treated the same way. Some words do hurt other people.
“I hadn’t initially commented on the “Female or Shemale” game on Drag Race when many people initially came forward and complained about it. I sat and thought about it for a whole week. I decided to make a comment on how I believed drag race was a platform for drag artists to showcase their creativity and how the show brought a lot of acceptance to drag queens mainstream. I also said that drag race should be more conscious of the words they use and shouldn’t further objectify transwomen with a game that obviously hurt a lot of the shows fans in the first place.
“Drag race has now, weeks after they already made a comment about it and after I said my peace, that they are removing that word from the show. Great. Right?
“Well now I’m dealing with a bunch of people who think it’s ok to personally attack me on social media for standing up for those who were offended and hurt by the words on the show. That ain’t even cool boo.
I can only do so much and honestly I rather be a real person than a fake bitch who will sit and allow others to use ignorance and hatred towards me or other trans people as if it’s ok.
“This isn’t high school. We need to grow up a little. It’s real life. I think people should educate themselves on respect and maybe, just maybe will the world begin to change for the better.
“I also think that using Ru-Mail or Fe-Mail may be a better substitute… Either way, you still get your favorite show and Rupaul still gets paid ?#?amenforthat? ?#?peacebewithyou?”[/quote]